[ Allen Ginsberg - Photograph by Ken Sharp]
Ginsberg-week next week on the Ginsberg blog - celebrating his upcoming 90th birthday next Friday.
Meantime, great response so far to the recently-released 3-cd set, The Last Word on First Blues
Don't miss Tom Semioli's extensive piece in Huffington Post - Pat Thomas, the producer, is lauded and quoted - "This set is essential for all Ginsberg fans, and a great bookend to "Howl", especially for newcomers. You get a complete overview of the work of Allen Ginsberg - from his first great work to something that stands among his final major works"
"The Ginsberg Estate gets thousands of letters praising his poetry, I was the one guy who writes to them praising the music. They turned me loose in his personal tape archive at Stanford! I spent years listening to hundreds of hours of Allen's music.."
Semioli notes this unfettered exuberance ("I was struck by how, to my ears, the collection reminded me of Dylan's joyous Basement Tapes.. Ginsberg is ebullient throughout the recordings, as are the other musicians. The passion, the humor, and the intensity of lyrics and melodies are irresistible.."
Thomas - "Oh yeah, Ginsberg could not be embarrassed. He may be the purest performer of all time."
[Allen Ginsberg in 1984 with Pat Thomas]
Other reviews have been equally positive. Sean Jewell in American Standard Time (who describes Thomas as "Our man in the skies doing God's work") declares that "The Last Word on First Blues is proof that Ginsberg never stopped finding new ways to express himself". James Mann, in Ink 19, while acknowledging contemporary criticisms that it was "obscene and disrespectful", considers it to be "a worthy edition to Ginsberg's canon", "the definitive look at this example of Allen Ginsberg's genius", and, "really quite fun."
Our good friend Hal Willner is at it again. Speaking of "obscene and disrespectful" (sic), you possibly can't be more (cathartically) "obscene and disrespectful" than William Burroughs' Naked Lunch. The Independent, this week, reports on Willner's new project - "Burroughs recited the most obscene passages from his non-linear free-flowing novel for an experimental album shortly before his death in 1997 but the project was "buried and put out of print very quickly". Now, more than two decades later, the audio is being dusted off…Canadian psychedelic soul singer King Khan..has composed new music to accompany Burroughs' recitations…The new album, named Let Me Hang You, after an episode from Naked Lunch will be released on Khan's record label on 15 July."
For more on that (for the original story in the New York Times) - see here
And one more on "obscenity", censorship, and provocative words - here's a troubling case reported last week in Myanmar
More on that case from PEN International - here and here
"Dirty Ferdy, filthy ferdie, lousy louie, looney louie, lecherous louie, lazy louie. lucky louie, blu Lou, lispin' lou", as Neal Cassady, in the fabled Joan Anderson letter, famously describes him (keeping with that theme), today is Louis Ferdinand Celine's birthday.
Terrible news to report regarding David S Wills exemplary site, Beatdom. "The website was hit by a major cyber-attack on Monday night. All 1,ooo posts, 2,ooo images, and 9 years of work were wiped out, and it has proven impossible to recover the lost data." Undaunted, Wills is hoping to rebuild the site from scratch, "start(ing) with recent posts and work(ing) our way back", "but a huge amount of material will prove impossible to replace". Beatdom and David have our deepest condolences. Please support Beatdom in this time of difficulty by buying their magazine and books.
Jim Jarmusch's recent movie premiered a couple of weeks back at the Cannes Film Festival, did we mention it evokes William Carlos Williams and Allen (main character, a bus-driver, who, matter-of-factly also writes poetry)? - and the name of the character? - same as the name of his town - and the name of that town? - Paterson
The great Ron Padgett was consultant to the film, and poems by him are included.
Next Friday, as well as being Allen's birthday, is, not coincidentally, the beginning of New York's ambitious Beats and Beyond programme. Some minor shifts and additions since last week when we announced the program. With so much happening, it makes sense to check up - here, keep up-to-date (Beat happenings every day, starting with a salute to the birthday-boy himself!) - Howl Happening!